This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972
William Shakespeare Hall (1825-1895), J.P., explorer, pastoralist and pearler, was born on 25 December 1825 in London and baptized at St Mary's Church of England, Lambeth, on 6 May 1827, the second son of Henry Edward Hall (1790-1859), squire of Shakerstone Manor, Leicestershire, and his wife Sarah Theodosia (1793-1858), née Branson. His parents' families both claimed connexions with the poet. He sailed for Western Australia with his parents, two brothers and three sisters in the Protector, chartered by his father and another settler, and reached Fremantle in February 1830. They safely landed many livestock, farming equipment, a 25-ton sloop and a jolly-boat, necessities and luxuries, and ten servants and apprentices. The value of this cargo entitled his father to a land grant of some 16,594 acres (6716 ha) which was taken up at Mandurah. Unfortunately the land proved unsuitable. After several years of hardship in which their first house and all its contents were destroyed by fire and their sloop was wrecked on Hall's Bank, the family moved to Perth and later bought a partly-improved property at Wongong near Armadale.
Educated chiefly by Rev. John Wittenoom, Shakespeare Hall farmed at Wongong until 1852 when he went to the Victorian goldfields. After eight unsuccessful years he returned to Western Australia and joined the expedition under Francis Gregory which in 1861 explored the north-west. In 1863 for John Wellard, Hall took up the first sheep station, Andover, in the Roebourne district. His early diary gives much insight into the toil and difficulty of pioneering. At that time the only communication with the south was by occasional sailing boats and the second settlers in the district were the Withnell family who arrived in April 1864. Like his father, Hall was short in stature but had prodigious strength. By the end of his second year much of the station's development had been achieved and he turned to pearling with Malay and Aboriginal divers and later to business pursuits in Roebourne and Cossack where for some years he was chairman of the municipality. On a hot summer night on 11 February 1895 he had a heart attack while swimming in Cossack Creek and was drowned. An obituarist described him as 'one of the most brilliant, upright, honest and valued lives that has ever lived amongst us'. A wrought iron screen in the Roebourne Anglican Church and a tombstone at his grave in Cossack were erected 'as a mark of appreciation and respect by the North West Pioneers'.
On 2 November 1868 he had married Hannah Boyd (1849-1911), daughter of George Lazenby, architect, and his wife Mary Ann, née Wells. Three of their children survived infancy: Henry Ernest (1869-1941), Hannah Joy (1876-1960) and Harold Aubrey (1871-1963) who like his father and grandfather was highly knowledgeable of the Aboriginals, their customs and language, and was singularly successful in his relations with them.
H. Margaret Wilson, 'Hall, William Shakespeare (1825–1895)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hall-william-shakespeare-3697/text5789, published in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 20 September 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972